One of the most common questions we encounter as parents of three homeschooled kids is: What about exams?
Let us start with the basics: An examination, commonly known as exam, is a test to see how good somebody is at something.
If that ‘somebody’ is your child and he or she happens to attend school, the only way the teacher and you as a parent can find out how much your child has understood is by giving him a formal test.
A test or examination is an assessment intended to measure a test-taker’s knowledge or rarely skill.
A test may be administered orally, on paper, on a computer, or in a confined area that requires a test taker to physically perform a set of skills. Tests vary in style, rigor and requirements. For example, in a closed book test, a test taker is often required to rely upon memory to respond to specific items whereas in an open book test, a test taker may use one or more supplementary tools such as a reference book or calculator when responding to an item. A test may be administered formally or informally.
An example of an informal test would be a reading test administered by a parent to a child.
An example of a formal test would be a final examination administered by a teacher in a classroom.
Figure 1 A formal test in process
So what people really want to know is what about formal tests for homeschooled children?
The beauty of homeschooling is that the parents, being the teachers of the child, know exactly what their children are learning and have understood at any point in time, by giving them informal tests all the time. So for them there is really no need to do any formal testing at all! Who else needs to know how much their child has understood? Who cares for their child more than they themselves, the parents? We as parents often go beyond testing too, to find out the heart of the child, something that cannot be measured by any test.
So my simple answer to people who ask me this question is: ofcourse we as parents test them regularly and informally. There is absolutely no need to do formal testing, with all its associated tensions for the child, parent and teacher as the case may be. As the homeschooled child grows older, he or she can take formal tests as deemed fit by the parents, if they wish to prepare him or her for entry into colleges.
There are different options for homeschooled children to take formal exams at different levels, like the Macmillan International Assessment for Indian Students, The NIOS and the IGCSE etc. You will find out more details of these on my other blogs. Relax and have a nice relaxed exam-free day J